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I am confused with the use of their + noun. I have two examples below. Which one sounds reasonable? Please help me clarify it. Thanks!

  1. Less developed nations need foreign aid from developed nations in order to develop their country.

  2. Less developed nations need foreign aid from developed nations in order to develop their countries.

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  • Hello, blackmask. Certainly using 'countries' is acceptable, matching number with the earlier '[Less developed] nations'. But in English, 'using a singular noun to refer to singular possessions of non-singular populations' (eg "Now pupils, take your protractor in your left hand (assuming you're right-handed) and ...") is acceptable and sometimes useful in disambiguating. Here, though 'possession' is not really applicable, the singular noun is likewise acceptable. // However, 'aid' is a single-form non-count noun here. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 13 '19 at 14:38
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  • First, the actual term is "less developed countries," which is a term coined by the UN and refers to a discrete list of countries that gets updated annually. Second, if you still intend on using "nations," then say "nations" throughout. Don't say "nations" twice and then switch to saying "country" or "countries." Third, as regards your actual question about plurals, either is acceptable grammatically, both having pitfalls as saying "country" may convey they all share one country or saying "countries" that each have a plurality of countries. Personally, I'd say "countries." – Benjamin Harman Sep 13 '19 at 14:47
  • This is what the UN defines to be a "less developed country," also called a "developing country": en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Developing_country . Also, at this link, you'll find what countries are presently included in the UN's list of less developed countries. Note these countries differ from "least developed countries," which is the UN's third list of countries and what people used to call "third-world countries," a term coined by NATO that has since been obsoleted because of the fall of the USSR and widespread bastardization to point to poor countries rather than unaligned countries. – Benjamin Harman Sep 13 '19 at 14:56
  • In this particular sentence, to achieve balance.. you started with nations, you should end with countries. – dolphin_of_france Sep 13 '19 at 15:03
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I think the following sentence,

Less developed nations need foreign aid from developed nations in order to develop their countries.

is correct because nations is a plural word and so when you are referring back to nations again, using countries, you have to follow that order in which the sentence was begun.

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